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Saudi Arabia Moves to Publicly Normalize Ties with Israel by Opening Airspace

Saudi Arabia opened its airspace to all flights to and from Israel as a step towards normalizing relations between them. This comes in the wake of US President Joe Biden’s visit to Saudi from Israel who applauded the move.

The Biden administration has sought for months to normalize ties between Saudi and Israel. It is being hailed as the “crown jewel” of agreements between the “Jewish state” and “the Arab world”.

The Saudi General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) said that its airspace was now open to all carriers that meet its requirements for overflights. According to GACA, the decision is reportedly aimed towards completing the efforts aimed at consolidating the Saudi’s position as a global hub, which will connect three continents in a bid to enhance international air connectivity. 

Palestinian political party Hamas, which governs more than two million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, called the opening of Saudi’s airspace to Israel “a reward for the Israeli occupation.” 

Before this time, covert meetings and agreements took place such as the 2020 meeting between then-Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Saudi de facto leader Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The decision now to allow Israeli airlines unlimited use of its airspace is happening for the first time.

Israeli Transport Minister Merav Michaeli said in a statement “This is an important step by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia that will significantly shorten flight times and lower prices.”

Just as Saudi Arabia welcomed Israel to its airspace, an image of an Israeli journalist taking a selfie on the plains of Arafat during the annual Hajj pilgrimage went viral when thousands of Muslims were deprived access to Hajj. Muslims took to social media to speak about the double standards while they were being left stranded without tickets and accommodations at the last minute or unable to go with groups to perform their pilgrimage from the West.

The image and video of the Israeli journalist Gil Tamary in the holy city of Mecca where non-Muslims are forbidden to enter was met with backlash leading to an announcement of the arrest of a Saudi citizen who had allegedly helped the journalist enter Mecca. Tamary was one of three members of the Israeli press who had been invited to cover the GCC+3 summit. 

After the outcry from around the world, Israel’s Channel 13 and Tamary apologized if the segment offended Muslims but they stood by the decision to air it and deem it a significant journalistic accomplishment. 

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  • Zamena Manekia Manji

    Zamena Manekia Manji is a breaking news writer for TMJ News with experience of over 10 years in the field. Her areas of focus are important breaking stories in North America specifically untold stories from a minority lens.

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